Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tips for Managing Older Employees

As a Millennial entering into a workforce and property of employees that were mostly older than me (both in age and seniority at the property), I felt a lot of pressure.  Pressure to perform.  Pressure to fit in.  Pressure to prove that there was a reason I was there.  One of the biggest pressures I faced (and still do) was managing employees older than myself.  It's not the easiest task to take on, yet it's not impossible.  Age does tend to bring wisdom, and many companies still value seniority and longevity over expertise or compatibility for future goals.  There are pros and cons to both sides of that argument, but that's for another post.

Since more individuals are continuing to work well into their 50s and 60s, the trend of young employees (again, both in terms of age and years of service) is not going to go away.  Many Baby Boomers still work now, and some that retired may enter back into the workforce if they haven't already (thank you, recession!).

I think that I've grown since taking on my current role and have learned how to relate, communicate, and listen to employees from all different age groups (Millenials, X'ers, Boomers).  I still learn how to be better at this every day, but can think of two things that have helped me the most in being successful with this challenge.  Hopefully other individuals that are new to managing older employees will find them useful as well.

1.  Listen -- It is the best thing you can do for your employees and yourself (both professionally and personally).  Listen to their experiences.  Listen to their individual needs.  Listen to their complaints and concerns.  Listen to them talk about their kids or grandkids.  Don't interrupt -- just listen and think about what they have told you.  Each time employees reveal something to you about themselves, it is an opportunity for you to learn from them, understand what truly motivates them and how to inspire their best work.

2.  Do not be anyone other than yourself -- I've found that the longer an employee has worked for a company or property, the more skeptical they are of new blood.  I may be wrong, but it has been my experience that older employees will test you to see if you do know what you're doing and if you do it well.  So when you start managing more senior staff members, do not try to be something you're not.  They will see through you.  Chances are, they've seen a manager before you pretend to be someone he/she was not in order to win over employees.  Senior employees can and will spot a phony in two seconds. 

If you don't like the way a food is presented or a napkin is folded on a table, say it.  Have a reason for your preference and stand behind it.  If you can show that you are true to your ideas and explain why you feel a certain way, the more your employees will respect you and learn to follow you.

For other ideas, read this OpenForum post  -- it features 10 tips for managing older employees.  I agree with most of them.  If you have tips of your own, please share!  These are good for people of all ages to hear and read about.

Written by:
Meghan Bollenback
Food & Beverage Manager
R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center

1 comment:

  1. Ideas and insights are very worth reading. Thanks for the tips and for the good info! I'm looking forward to read more.
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